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How To Clean And Dry Out An Inflatable Kayak

Nicola Burridge
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Get ready for a spotless inflatable kayak that’s ready for any water adventure!

Say goodbye to mold and mildew ruining your kayak, and hello to a hassle-free packing process.

Join us as we show you the ins and outs of how to clean and dry your inflatable kayak like a pro, ensuring it stays in pristine condition for every future excursion.

How To Clean And Dry Out An Inflatable Kayak - Pinterest ImagePin

The Problem With Not Drying Your Inflatable Kayak (The Why)

Let’s face it, nobody wants a musty old kayak in their house or garage. And you definitely don’t want to sit in one when paddling season rolls around – or worse, you have to abandon your trip.

But if you don’t dry out your inflatable kayak properly before you pack it away for the season, you could be faced with a moldy, mildewy boat when you eventually take it out of its storage bag.

Mold and mildew can start to grow on inflatable kayaks that have not been completely dried out before they were stored.

Because of the materials used in the construction of inflatable kayaks and the lack of ventilation to the fabric when the kayak is tightly rolled or folded, mold and mildew can easily build up.

If you’ve ever gone camping in the rain and you didn’t dry out your tent properly before you packed it away, you might have experienced mildewy fabrics before.

What causes mold and mildew? Moisture. And if your inflatable kayak is not completely dry when you pack it into its storage case, then moisture will remain. When there is no ventilation to allow air to circulate around your entire kayak, there is a risk of mold growth.

And because of how an inflatable kayak needs to be stored, there is unlikely to be proper ventilation to reach all parts of your kayak since the kayak is rolled tightly (potentially with moisture trapped inside).  

Warm, damp air can also increase the likelihood of mold and mildew developing. This could be made worse if the kayak is stored in a dark place like a small closet or a garage that’s not temperature-controlled, particularly if you live in a humid climate, for example, in Florida.

Damaged Kayaks

It’s not just the smell of mold and mildew that can cause a problem. Mold and mildew can damage your inflatable kayak. Mold can destroy fabrics. It can weaken and degrade the materials on your kayak if left for too long.

Weakened fabrics on an inflatable kayak can be particularly problematic, as this can affect the structural integrity of your boat.

If the materials on your inflatable kayak weaken, your kayak could be more at risk of suffering a puncture. This is because the fabric could begin to wear away, making tears more likely.

As well as the structural damage, you could be left with stains on your kayak. Mold and mildew can cause stains that are difficult to get out. However, you might be able to clean mold off by using certain household products, such as vinegar and baking soda. Though this might not get the stains out.

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

  • Plenty of dry towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dish soap (or a similar mild soap)
  • Clean water
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • Bilge pump (if you tend to have a lot of excess water in crevices)
  • Hair dryer  – optional

How To Clean And Dry Your Inflatable Kayak (Quickly)

If you plan on using your inflatable kayak again in a couple of days then you can usually get away with cleaning and drying it the quick way. So you probably don’t need the vacuum cleaner for this method.

You may not want to thoroughly clean the kayak before you store it if you plan to take it out again in a few days. But it can be a good idea to rinse it after each use to get rid of any grime, silt, or salt.

Step 1: Rinse Your Kayak

Water coming out of hosepipePin

Use your hose to rinse off your kayak. This can be particularly important if you’ve been paddling in saltwater environments or areas with sand.

Your kayak should be fully inflated while you rinse it with clean water.

Step 2: Empty The Water

Remove excess water by flipping the kayak upside down. You could turn it on its side and tip it up from the bow or stern to get rid of any water that might be inside.

Step 3: Towel Dry The Kayak

Grab a dry towel and start drying the kayak. The kayak should still be inflated at this point. Wipe down all the surfaces both inside and outside the kayak, including the bottom of the hull.

Step 4: Deflate The Floor

Deflate the floor and turn the kayak upside down to remove any water that might still be inside the kayak.

Now you can continue to use your towel to dry the inside of the kayak with the floor deflated. You might need to use a dry towel if the one you were using is no longer dry.

Step 5: Deflate The Rest Of The Kayak

Now that the interior of your kayak has been towel dried, you can deflate the rest of the air chambers. Once the whole kayak is deflated, continue wiping it down with a dry towel so that there is no visible moisture left.

Step 6: Leave To Air Dry

After you’ve wiped the kayak down with your towels, leave it to dry in the fresh air. You should avoid direct sunlight if possible. It can help to drape it over something to let air circulate around the whole kayak.

You could hang a rope between two trees and hang it over the rope. Or you could carefully drape it over a balcony or deck railings.

Leave it for several hours if you can, so that it can be as dry as possible.

You could also potentially use a hair dryer on a cool setting to help you dry the kayak faster. It’s probably still better to leave it outside to dry but a hair dryer could speed up the process.

Step 7: Roll It Up And Pack It Away

Now that your kayak is completely dry, you can roll it up and pack it into its storage bag.

How To Clean And Dry Your Inflatable Kayak (For Storage)

If you plan to store your kayak for a couple of weeks or several months, it can be better to give the kayak a more thorough clean and dry. Remember, the longer a damp fabric is left untouched in storage, the more likely it will be to grow mold and other types of fungus.

Step 1: Vacuum The Kayak

This can be a good first step to remove any particles that might have built up inside your kayak during your adventures. This could include food crumbs, sand, and pebbles, as well as dust and dirt.

Step 2: Clean Your Kayak

Sponge in blue bucket of soapy waterPin

First, start by rinsing off your kayak just like you would after each paddling session. Use your hose to spray water over it to help get rid of any saltwater or silt residue. Keep your kayak inflated for this step.

Grab your bucket of clean freshwater and some dish soap. Using your sponge, gently clean the kayak using the soapy water.

Wipe down the entire kayak, including the sidewalls, the floor, and underneath the hull.

Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt and grime from the kayak, you can rinse it off again using your hose.

Step 3: Wipe Away Excess Water

You might want to empty the water from the inside of the kayak first or use a bilge pump if there’s water hiding in any crevices.

Then you can start wiping away the rest of the moisture using a dry towel. Wipe the towel all over the kayak, including in any crevices.

Just like in the quick method above, deflate the floor and use your towel to get into all the small corners and seams to make sure all the water is gone.

Step 4: Deflate And Dry The Kayak

Deflate the rest of your kayak and continue drying the boat with a dry towel. You may need more than one towel to do this. It’s best not to continue using the same towel if it is wet, otherwise it might take longer for the kayak to dry.

Step 5: Air Dry

With all the moisture wiped away from your kayak with your towels, it’s time to let it air dry. Hang it up somewhere outside if you can. Leaving it on the ground means air won’t be able to circulate to the underside of the kayak.

Hang it over a bench, railings, or from a rope line.

Leave it outside in a sheltered spot away from direct sunlight. You should leave it to dry for several hours to give all remaining moisture a suitable chance to evaporate.

Like in the quick method above, you could also speed up the drying process by using a hair dryer on a cool setting. You could do this before you leave it out dry or after it’s been outside for a few hours.

Step 6: Pack It Up

Once you’ve made sure that the kayak is completely dry, it’s time to roll it up and pack it away in its storage bag.

The storage bag should be able to close once you’ve packed the kayak inside. But, like with most outdoor gear, this can sometimes be tricky.

If you can’t get the bag to close, you might want to use a different storage bag. A sealed bag can prevent bugs and critters from trying to make their homes inside your cozy kayak.

Conclusion: All Dried Out

Hopefully you’ve found this guide easy to follow and informative. And hopefully you can now prevent your inflatable kayak from getting damaged from mold and mildew.

Remember, you don’t want to be sitting in a smelly, moldy kayak when paddling season comes along.

If you have other methods that you swear by to clean and dry your inflatable kayak let us know. And if you want to help prevent others from landing in a smelly situation, share this guide.

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1 thought on “How To Clean And Dry Out An Inflatable Kayak”

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